Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Welcome to Pakistan: Chaman border

Date: 3rd June, 2010.

On 1st Moharram, 1433, NATO forces (Read: American crusaders) fired at Pakistan border posts killing 24 Army men including a Major and a Captain. Pakistan, as a measure of revenge, stopped all NATO oil tankers, equipment and food containers at its two borders, Torkham (NWFP) and Chaman (Balochistan; Photograph). All Generals along with Kiyani met PM, Gilani, and it was discussed that the upcoming Bonn conference on Afghanistan would be boycotted as well. Americans were also asked to release Shamsi airbase, 300 KM from Quetta. Americans accepted without much hassle but asked Pakistanis to reconsider attending Bonn conference. Pakistan declined, mostly because PPP wants votes in upcoming elections and daylight attack on Armed Forces of Pakistan has rallied entire country against America. PPP cannot, even if it wants to, do anything about this public outrage. Let us see these events and so-called swift decisions in a different light.

We know from various sources that much of the budget of Pakistan Army, including its fighter jets and missiles, comes from US Army. American Congress can easily put a stop to all that, if Pakistan somehow refuses to tow American line. Our Generals, atleast most of them, appear to be on friendly terms with US Army and CIA. There's lot of information being passed to American Government by our Army personal. So even if Kiyani wants to put an end to transportation of NATO equipment and oil, he will have to think a lot about his fighter jets, their spare parts and the sort of intelligence that we presently have. We are no match for the gigantic Indian Armed Forces and we cannot afford to look into the eye of NATO and Americans right now. And I am sure that is actually not what Kiyani intends to do. He intends to put a break to continuous towing of American line. That will certainly improve his image among Pakistanis and specially among Armed Forces personal. That may be necessary now or he could face internal conflict from his juniors. That would be rather disastrous for our Army and our country.

As for the release of Shamsi Airbase is concerned, it is well known that this base is used by Arabs during winter months. They land here and hunt their favourite migratory bird, Horbura Bustard. Therefore, Americans actually did not oblige Pakistanis, they obliged their thorough allies, the Arabs. (Americans will need Arabs when they attack Iran next year). Therefore, Pakistanis should not be very happy when Americans say they are vacating this base. Yes, they are but that is not because Pakistan Army has asked them to. In any case, there are so many bases from where Drones may be flown into Pakistan that Shamsi airbase only acted as a secondary base for them. It was primarily used for servicing rather than flying drones.

As for NATO containers and tankers, it is life line for many well-connected Pashtuns and Punjabis. These contractors have become immensely rich and powerful and it is unlikely that our lame, democratic government will be able to continue to stop them for long. NATO has oil for around 4.5 months in advance. So they won't be loosing any sleep over these oil containers. And, as stated earlier, as much of funds and equipment comes from US directly to our Army, it is highly unlikely that these containers will be sitting idle for more than 20 days on a stretch.

Yes, but there is one point on which Pakistan can play really nicely on NATO / ISAF sentiments: Iran. Americans are preparing feasibility reports on Iran and are looking for various reactions from its immediate neighbors. Pakistan could be a troublesome country for our leadership is Shia (President as well as General Pasha are Shias). And naturally there is lot of sympathy for the fellow Shias across Taftan border. By delaying NATO containers Pakistan might just be giving signal to American forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere that they won't become a part of allied war on Iran. This could be the key for a stable region. But, our hands are tied fast. Let us see whether we can withstand the nerve test.

1 comment:

Susanna said...

Had NO IDEA that the president was Shia. Wonder what will happen with Lashka-e-Jangvi after the Shia attack?